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Bay Area transit officers lacked crisis training, chief says

September 28, 2011 | 12:42 pm

A man is pulled off a commuter train a during a protest against the July shooting by transit police of Charles Hill 
The chief of the Bay Area Rapid Transit District police department told state legislators this week that only a fraction of his officers have been trained in crisis intervention methods that would help them deal with people who are mentally ill.

Chief Kenton Rainey also revealed that the two officers involved in the July 3 fatal shooting of an intoxicated, knife-wielding transient had not received that training, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Rainey was questioned in Sacramento at a special hearing Tuesday called by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), chairman of the Assembly Public Safety Committee, in the wake of Charles Hill’s shooting death. That fatality, along with the 2009 shooting of Oscar Grant by a BART police officer, have caused a rolling series of commute-hour protests.

Rainey told legislators, according to the Chronicle, that “field officers who train rookies had gone through such courses, but the two officers in question did not.”

From the Chronicle report:

Asked again later about the training, Rainey said he “would agree wholeheartedly” that more officers need it. He said that since last September, 24 of the 160 officers have completed the 40-hour course, which is in addition to an eight-hour session they and others receive as part of required rules in the police academy.

Twenty others are set to take it this year, which Rainey called “a lot” compared with other agencies. While the additional training is common in many parts of the country, and mandatory in several states, law enforcement agencies in California have been slower to adopt it.


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-- Maria L. La Ganga in San Francisco

Photo: A man is pulled off a commuter train a during a protest against the July shooting by transit police of Charles Hill. Credit: Eric Risberg / Associated Press